HomeNewsRule of law will boost Africa-Japan trade

Rule of law will boost Africa-Japan trade

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UNITED Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon warned a Tokyo International Conference on Development (Ticad) thematic session on trade, investment enhancement on the continent may fail to meet Ticad objectives unless the tenets of rule of law, human and property rights were adhered to.

Report by Itai Masuku in Yokohama, Japan

He warned that corruption and inequitable distribution of the benefits of economic development would stymic efforts to bring Africa, the next frontier of investment and economic growth. In particular, he singled out opaque mining deals, rampant across the continent as the basis of conflicts within African countries, as threatening the peace and stability necessary to support economic prosperity.

Ban made the comments while various Japanese companies, which have shown interest in Zimbabwe’s mining industry but have been obstructed by lack of transparency over mining concessions in the country, sought audience with President Robert Mugabe.

Informed sources said some of the businessmen had interest in exploiting potential gas reserves in Zimbabwe among other extractions.

Like many Western nations such as the United States, Canada, Europe, and Australia, Japanese companies have through high tech methods such as satellite mapping, a wealth of information on Zimbabwe’s mineralisation. Government has admitted that it knows less about its mineral wealth than do several industrialised nations.

While acknowledging Africa’s endowment in mineral and other resources, Ban pointed out the irony that the continent was still plagued by poverty and unemployment, leading to much political instability.

“This is the role that Africa’s leaders must play, (that of ensuring peace and stability for economic growth,” the UN chief said.

It is the consensus of the Ticad V meeting that while peace and stability are bedrocks of economic development, there is now need to accelerate peace-building initiatives across the continent. But to prevent instability, the wealth of African nations must be shared equitably, lest this leads to conflict.

World Bank president Jim Yong Kim also stressed the need for political stability and security on the African continent for the realisation of growth targets. He believed Africa could achieve better than the 5,3% growth the developing world has been experiencing. He projected Africa’s growth this year at 5,11%.

Jim said Africa’s growth rate was comparing far much better than Europe’s negative 0,2% growth. He said while a slowdown in the growth rate of China, the world’s second largest economy and single biggest market, could affect Africa’s economic growth rate, this would be counterbalanced by what he termed a pleasant surprise in the growth of the US economy, the world’s largest.

Although Ban bemoaned corruption and lack of transparency in the general business environment in Africa, he commended Tanzania as one country which had taken positive steps towards creating a transparent and enabling environment for business and investment.

African business leaders, represented by Kenya and Ghana, where Japanese firms have successfully opened business that creates value addition, threw their weight behind good governance in order to foster a conducive business environment in Africa.

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